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CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR: Hello, everyone, and welcome to “Amanpour and Company.” Here’s what’s coming up.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JARED KUSHNER, SENIOR ADVISER TO PRESIDENT TRUMP: What we’re hoping we can do is get people to look at this a little bit differently, come together,
share ideas, and then, hopefully create a framework on which to move forward economically.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: The White House unveils a $50 billion economic incentive for the Palestinians. But the Palestinian prime minister dismisses it calling for
peace first. We have an exclusive interview.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BRYAN STEVENSON, FOUNDER AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, EQUAL JUSTICE INITIATIVE: Tonight, we are taking this broken history, it’s been inequality and
justice and we’re trying to do something with it.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: A new HBO documentary on the civil rights lawyer, Bryan Stevenson, and his long crusade for social justice. I talk to him as the
Supreme Court wraps up its session with crucial rulings on race.
Plus, a pioneer on the podium. The first woman to lead a major American orchestra. Conductor, Marin Alsop, talks to our Alicia Menendez.
Welcome to the program, everyone. President Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor, Jared Kushner, revealed the first section of the U.S./Middle East
peace plan, after two-and-a-half-years on the drawing board and President Trump’s promise to make the deal of the century.
It’s an economic proposal for a $50 billion package to boost the economies of the Palestinian territories plus the neighboring countries of Egypt,
Lebanon and Jordan. Officials say, it is contingent, though, on an Israeli/Palestinian peace agreement. But that part of the Trump plan won’t
be unveiled for some time, perhaps after the next round of Israeli elections scheduled for September.
Kushner will pitch the plan at a two-day conference in Bahrain that starts tomorrow, calling for a combination of grants, low interest loans and
private investment over 10 years. Although, it remains entirely theoretical so far with no firm guarantees, all financial pledges from
companies, governments or international organizations.
It is not a donor’s conference. It is a workshop. And neither Israeli nor Palestinian officials will attend it, as it’s — the Palestinians are
rejecting it out of hand. And I’ve been speaking to the prime minister of the Palestinian authority, Mohammad Shtayyeh, who is criticizing the Trump
administration’s unconventional approach of releasing an economic proposal before a political one.
Prime Minister Shtayyeh, welcome to the program.
MOHAMMAD SHTAYYEH, PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY PRIME MINISTER: Thank you.
AMANPOUR: Why would you boycott an event that is designed simply to explore, remember it’s called a workshop, the opportunity to give billions
of dollars, tens of billions of dollars, $50 billion to your people and the Palestinian authority?
SHTAYYEH: The figures are so exaggerated to the extent that we don’t believe it, first. Secondly, this economic workshop is totally diverse
from any political dimension. The economic problem in Palestinian has nothing to do with the economic policy of anybody. The economic problem
here or financial crisis that we are in, it has to do with the Israeli measures that has been imposed on the Palestinian economy, on one hand, and
the financial war that has been declared by this American administration on the Palestinian people, on the Palestinian authority, on the United Nation
work, association for the Palestinian refugees.
So, the issue is really not an economic issue. The Palestinians are hoping for independence, sovereign state, end of occupation. The issue for us is
not about economic issues. We have seen this before. Secretary George Shultz was here in 1983. He came to say that solving the Palestinian
problem has to do with improving the living condition of the Palestinian people. This didn’t materialize.
Then John Kerry stood at the World Economic Forum at the Dead Sear, promising the Palestinians $4 billion. This has never materialized. All
the foreign direct investment has been seized simply because — or blocked, simply because international investors have no access to the Palestinian
territories in the absence of Palestinian control of borders, or exit points, of entry points and so on and so forth.
So, the issue here is not economic problems. The issue here is 100 percent political that has to do with the fact that the Palestinian people are
living under direct settler colonial regime, that’s called the settler colonial regime of the State of Israel. In order for the Palestinians to
live in a prosperous situation, we need to be independent.
AMANPOUR: Right. So, you’re basically saying, if I get you right, that it’s no point having the cart before the horse that promises and ideas of
money and investment will not work outside of political framework.
SHTAYYEH: Exactly. You are right. In addition to this, the [13:05:00] whole exercise that has been there, I mean, the paper that has been
presented or will be presented, it’s simply a cotton-based issue. We have seen it in UIC ID documents, we have seen in the Quartet documents, we have
seen it here and there. The issue is not really about fixed issues.
This is like a desktop work. This is somebody who is divorced from reality. What will be presented has nothing to do with reality, it has
nothing to do with settlements, it has nothing to do with occupation, it has nothing to do with the Palestinians not having any access to their land
or their water. Palestinians have no control over their resources.
So, when we speak about investment and improving living conditions without really tackling the roots and the causes of the problem, I think the whole
workshop is totally misleading and it’s just simply an intellectual exercise.
As I said earlier, the best part of it will be only the coffee break.
AMANPOUR: But here is the thing, the administration in the United States is saying that this is a workshop. It is not a donor’s conference. And
clearly, they say, and they’ve been saying it today, that this is something that could work within the framework of a peace. In other words, they
fully understand, they say, that there needs to be a peace process, a peace agreement, a peace settlement that this is the kind of investment
opportunities that would go hand in hand after there is a peace settlement.
So, they also are saying this won’t work in a vacuum. And so, I guess my question to you is, why don’t you go and see what is on offer?
SHTAYYEH: Why don’t they present — why don’t they fill the vacuum? Why don’t they come up with something that is in harmony with international
law? We know what the problem in Palestinian is. We have been at this peace process since October 1991, since Madrid peace talks. We have tried
everything. This sort of bilateralism, the American mediation, all the problems have been tested. Everybody knows what the problem in Palestinian
The issue is whether there is a serious determination about solving the problem. This workshop is about — is for me, a laundry, a political
laundry for settlements and a legitimization of the occupation. Palestinians are not looking for that. The Palestinians, they consider
settlements are illegal. The Palestinians, they want to get rid of occupation. And we are ready to engage with any political proposal that
has to do with international law, that has to do with ending occupation, that has to do with allowing the Palestinians, for once, to live in peace
and harmony in an independent sovereign Palestinian State.
AMANPOUR: My question to is, you say you don’t have an economic problem. And yet, you yourself have told the “New York Times” and others that,
“Palestinian authorities collapsing financially. You could be bankrupt by July or august.” Those are your words, Mr. Prime Minister. You do have an
economic problem. How serious will that be? What will it mean if you collapse financially?
SHTAYYEH: This financial siege that we are in has been imposed by both Israel and the United States. So, those who are gathering at Bahrain
workshop, claiming they want to help the Palestinians, I don’t know how is it possible for anybody to believe that those who are gathering there at
Bahrain are there to help us. At the same time, they are the ones who are imposing financial siege on us.
We are in difficult situation. It is true. It’s simply because our money is blocked somewhere there in Israel. The issue for us, as I said, solving
the Palestinian problem or the problem in (INAUDIBLE), we do have an economic problem, we do have a financial problem but these are not a result
of wrong economic policy by the Palestinians, these are product of the Israeli policies that has to do with lack of access to Area C, with lack of
access to international markets, with lack of access of investors to our territory, and so on and so forth.
Imagine a situation in which somebody speaks about economic development and their occupation where you have no access to land, you have no access to
markets, you have no access to water and you have no access — and investors have no access here. So, we do recognize the fact that we have a
problem. The question is, how do you solve the problem? The problem can easily be solved by ending occupation.
AMANPOUR: I understand what you’re saying. I want to play you a little bit of an interview that Jared Kushner, the president’s senior advisor and
sort of the midwife of this plan said regarding the difference that he feels in the aspirations of the people versus your aspirations, the
leadership aspirations. Just take a listen.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP) KUSHNER: If you don’t have a proper governance structure and proper security, when people are living in fear of terror, that hurts
Palestinians, it huts Israelis just the same.
UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Do you believe the Palestinian people deserve their own independent sovereign state with a capitol in East Jerusalem?
KUSHNER: There’s a difference between the [13:10:00] technocrats and there’s a difference between the people. The technocrats are focused on
very technocratic things. And when I speak to Palestinian people, what they want is they want the opportunity to live a better life, they want the
opportunity to pay their mortgage.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: So, you hear Jared Kushner saying that the people, your people, need an opportunity, want wan opportunity and are fed up with the political
paralysis, not just the Israeli occupation but the paralysis within the Palestinian authority as well.
SHTAYYEH: Well, look, my dear, the Palestinian people, they want bread, they want to live in dignity and they want to live an independent
Palestinian State. The leadership wants the same. Today, every Palestinian is united behind the leadership, whether the political
factions, geography, (INAUDIBLE), Palestinian (INAUDIBLE), Lebanon and Syria and Jordan, everywhere.
Everybody is united behind the Palestinian president who officially declared that this is not in the interest of the Palestinian people. Here
is the most important and famous saying, “It is not with bread ones live only.” We’re not looking for bread, we are not looking for additional loaf
of bread. We are looking for dignity, we are looking for freedom, liberty, living independent state in an independent sovereign state with Jerusalem
as its capital and a settlement for the Palestinian refugee problem. That is what we are calling for.
If you conduct an opinion poll in Palestine, everybody, you will have an — you will have a national consensus on these issues. So, to play the game
that the people want something and the leader want something else, excuse me, that’s totally unacceptable and it’s not correct.
AMANPOUR: You know, I’ve covered the peace process since Madrid, Oslo and on and on and on, Camp David, Olmert, all of those. The fact of the matter
is, that the Palestinian leadership under President Arafat and President Mahmoud Abbas have refused and rejected some very, very generous proposals,
whether it was Camp David with Ehud Barak, whether it was Ehud Olmert, when he was prime minister. I know all your reasons. So, I’m not going to have
you repeat them again, but there were major offers on the table.
And now, the consensus has changed. And you’ve got the right-wing government in Israel and you’ve got President Trump who clearly sides with
the Israelis. So, my question to you is, how do you think that the political situation will be unblocked so that you can get a peace process?
You’ve even cut off all communications with the Trump administration. How are you going to move from this rejectionist place to somewhere where we
could see movement for a peace agreement?
SHTAYYEH: You have covered this peace process since Madrid. I was the first Palestinian who landed in Madrid of October 1991 for the Madrid peace
talks. I didn’t have a gray hair. I was not married. I didn’t have children. It is 28 years now after the start of the Madrid peace process.
Where are we now?
The number of settlers in the Palestinian territory were 145,000. Today, 711,000. Palestinians have not missed a single opportunity. I looked at
the minutes of the Camp David. I was engaged with President Abass. I was there with President Arafat. We have not been offered an opportunity. It
was all a decoration of things.
When it was very serious in Camp David and everybody knew that is not we who should be blamed for it. Read Rob (ph) Marley, ask Madeleine Albright
who to be blamed. The issue is not about history, about blame.
And now, the Americans they want to put us in a blame game. We are in principle rejecting what is happening in Bahrain. We are in principle
rejecting the move of the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. We are in principle rejecting that Jerusalem is the united capital for the Jewish
people. Jerusalem is an occupied territory.
So, therefore, if the Palestinians ever missed an opportunity, somebody has to tell us where is the opportunity. We need one single opportunity that
has to do with ending occupation, first off.
AMANPOUR: I hear you loud and clear, Mr. Prime Minister. But I can tell you because you know it better than I do that President Arafat accepted
Camp David and accepted the Clinton parameters when it was too late. It was too late. By the time he accepted it, the offer was off the table.
And here we are with all the figures that you’re telling me about, the increase of settlers, the increase of financial hardship, the
solidification of consensus against peace and against a two-state solution.
Meantime, your unemployment rate is up to something like 31 percent in the West Bank. It’s around 52 percent in Gaza, according to the World Bank.
And, you know, you may have — I just want to know what you say to somebody like Jason Greenblatt who is the special representative saying, “It would
be a mistake for you not to join us. They have nothing to lose and much to gain.” And then he says, “The Palestinian leadership portrays
participation in the workshop as treasonous. That is preposterous. Supporters of this workshop want only the best for the [13:15:00]
Palestinians and the region.” Are you actually telling business people not to attend Palestinian business people?
SHTAYYEH: We didn’t approach anybody not to attend. I will tell you, it was the Palestinian private sector who officially declared that they are
not attending. I challenge anybody, if we ever spoke to anybody not to go. Palestinian business community, Palestinian private sector is an integral
part of the Palestinian political arena. They are not always behind the government.
In this situation, they went ahead because they have seen the situation so many times. There has been so many promises that has never materialized.
62 percent of the Palestinian territory is under full Israeli control.
So, in order for us to have one single factory, you need the permit of the Israelis. If you want to dig a water well, you need the permit of the
Israelis. Today is summer and the Jordan Valley has a huge potential for economic development. The settlers are swimming in motor (ph) swimming
pools and the Palestinians have no water to drink. So, therefore, it’s not — we don’t trust it. We don’t trust this administration.
President Abbas, he had four good meetings with President Trump. All of a sudden, we were taken by surprise, we were shocked that the administration
decided to move the embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. So, we did nothing wrong.
If you look at the literature, if you look at the statements, our president has been working by the book. And it’s very simply. Look at the record of
the statements by the team that is working under President Trump, look at the statements, none one single statement against settlement, none one
single statement criticizing Israel, none one single statement that has to do with Jerusalem, none one single statement that has to do with two-state,
67 border, Palestinian right of self-determination, Palestinian sovereign state. Look at it.
So, the whole peace process has to do with people living in free state of Palestine that is sovereign, that does — a fulfilled the aspirations of
the Palestinian people. It is not fair. We are not looking — as I said earlier, we are not looking for additional loaf of bread, we are not
looking for — to live a five-star hotels and their occupation and so on, that is not what we want.
AMANPOUR: Are you concerned that the United States might allow Israel to annex part or a lot of the West Bank? And do you still believe that a two-
state solution is possible? Because even some Palestinian intellectuals, commentators, even some new Palestinian-born members of Congress are
talking about a potential one-state solution.
SHTAYYEH: Well, look, this administration is really very unpredictable. We have seen the Trump administration annexing part of the Golan Heights.
The American ambassador to Israel yesterday was touring the Jordan Valley and he was expressing his pleasure that Israel will continue to control the
Jordan Valley. And at earlier stage, he called for the annexation of certain parts. That is something that is not only dangerous but this is a
total jeopardization of the final status issues, one.
Secondly, demography is a crucial factor. Today, 2019, the Palestinians are more in demography than the Israelis. The number of Palestinians who
are living between Mediterranean Sea and the River Jordan are 6.8 million Palestinians. The number of Jews, Israeli Jews, who are living between the
River Jordan and the Mediterranean Sea are 6.6.
So, today, Israel has a chance for two states. Either we go into a real genuine two states on the border six to seven or Israel will be, by de
facto and de jure, an apartheid state. So, the Israelis have to choose. Now, Israel is an election mode. The problem is that, the debate in Israel
is not between those who want peace and those who want continuation of occupation. The debate in Israel today, unfortunately, is between those
who want to maintain the status quo and those who want to annex certain parts of the Palestinian territory.
This all design has to do with the systematic destruction of a future Palestinian state. We are here to resist it. The Palestinians — we have
been instructed for 100 years now. We did not surrender. If there are people in Washington who believe that you squeeze the Palestinians, you
push them to be defeated, then they surrender, they accept, they are very wrong. We will not surrender. We will not be defeated. And we will only
accept things that does fulfill the aspirations of our people. We have been mandated to protect our people. We will continue to do so. Protect
them. Protect our territory for peace and justice, not only for the Palestinians but for all.
AMANPOUR: Prime Minister, Mohammad Shtayyeh, thank you very much for joining me.
SHTAYYEH: Thank you so much, Christiane, for having me.
AMANPOUR: Remains an impassioned and unresolved issue. And we turn now to the United States where divisions are also acute, issues of race are
shaping the 2020 presidential race and the driving the Supreme Court’s current term.
Just last week, the court threw out a Mississippi Black man’s conviction and death sentence over the prosecutor’s efforts to keep Black people off
his jury. Bryan Stevenson is one of the nation’s leading civil rights lawyers. He got the Supreme Court to overturn a death penalty conviction
earlier this year. And he argues that America’s history of slavery and lynching casts a long shadow over the modern death penalty.
His advocacy is captured in the new documentary “True Justice.” It debuts on Wednesday on HBO, which is owned by CNN’s parent company Warner Media.
I’ve been speaking to Stevenson about the fight to truly achieve the Supreme Court’s promise, equal justice under law.
Bryan Stevenson, welcome back to our program.
STEVENSON: Thank you. It’s great to be with you.
AMANPOUR: So, I want to know what you made of the recent Supreme Court decision about Curtis Flowers. They ruled that actually it was
unconstitutional the way the prosecutor kept stacking that jury five, six times to make sure the Black defendant got no Black jurors. And they
STEVENSON: Yes. That’s tight. And I think the court’s ruling is a positive ruling, but that was a really extreme example of racial bias in
jury selection. That prosecutor excluded 41 out of 42 African-Americans that had been called to jury service over a period of six years. There’s a
lot of evidence to suggest that that man is innocent.
And so, I think it’s great that the court made that ruling but we still have lots of other cases where the evidence isn’t as extreme where people
of color are routinely excluded from serving on juries. We have too many counties in America that are substantially — have substantial African-
American populations where no person of color sits on these capital trial juries and we’ve tolerated a lot of racial bias there.
So, while the courts’ ruling in Flowers is encouraging, there’s so much more work to be done. The prosecutor in that case and the prosecutors in
cases throughout this era have never really been held accountable for systemically excluding people of color from juries and that’s why we still
have a lot of work to be done on that issue.
AMANPOUR: So, I need to ask you about Clarence Thomas. You know, Black associate justice on the Supreme Court who dissented he and Neil Gorsuch
were the two decenters in the case by 7 to 2. And he said there’s no evidence to show that there was a race component to the prosecutor
systemically barring Black people from being jurors. What do you make of Clarence Thomas reacting and ruling like that?
STEVENSON: Well, I think Justice Thomas represents a perspective that has tried to deny this long history of exclusion and bias against people of
color. It’s not inconsistent with some of his earlier rulings. It is disappointing.
Look, I’ve done cases in counties that are majority Black, that have never put a person of color on the trial jury. I’ve done cases where the
prosecutor organized the jury pool into four groups of 25, one marked strong, one marked medium and one marked weak, and all Black jurors marked
— put on a list marked Black, even excluded all of them.
We have dramatic evidence of racial bias. I’ve done cases where the prosecutor uses the n-word to refer to the defendant, and I think that’s
been destructive, I think it’s unhealthy. It is a barrier to equal justice under law. And it’s the thing that I’m most motivated to challenge and
change because I don’t think we can get to justice any other way.
We’ve now exonerated over 160 people who were proved innocent after being sentenced to death. That means that for every 10 people we’ve executed in
this country, we’ve identified one-person innocent on death row. It’s a shocking rate of error. If you want into a supermarket and 1 out of 10
apples, if you touched it would kill you, we would stop selling apples. But we haven’t applied that consciousness to this death penalty.
And we have a criminal justice system in this country that treats you better if you’re rich and guilty than if you’re poor and innocent, where
race is a determinant of who is going to be sentenced to die, where there’s politics, where there’s mistakes, and that has to change.
And a single case, however important, isn’t getting to this larger problem of an unreliable system that too frequently imposes wrong justice, unfair
justice, inadequate justice.
AMANPOUR: Well, I want to get to one of the cases that is highlighted in the HBO documentary. First of all, a colleague of yours describes what is
going on in the process that you’ve described as legal lynching. I guess you agree with that with that terminology?
STEVENSON: Oh, I do. I mean, we had 100 years in this country following the collapse of reconstruction, where Black people were pulled out of their
[13:25:00] homes, they were beaten, they were hanged, they were murder, they were drowned, sometimes on the public square, on the courthouse lawn.
Law enforcement accommodated this violence and terrorism. And it shaped the way systems of justice thought about the lives of Black people.
And in the 1940s and ’50s when growing public pressure was being placed on these jurisdictions to stop these lawless lynchings, cases moved inside but
our commitment to reliability didn’t get any better. And so, we have seen a death penalty that operates in a really unfair way that frequently
targets people of color. The 1987 case of McCleskey established that you’re 11 times more likely to get the death penalty if the victim is White
than if the victim is Black, 22 times more likely to get the death penalty if the defendant is Black and the victim is White.
And the court upheld that and characterized that result as “inevitable.” And that’s the way people talked about the lawlessness of lynching. They
said, “We can’t do anything about White mob reaction.” And that’s the reason why I think there is this line from enslavement to lynching to
excessive punishment to the death penalty to even the way we continue to apply presumptions of dangerousness and guilt of Black and Brown people
that result in these police shootings and oppressive and unfair school policies and all the other issues that people are desperate to recover
AMANPOUR: So, to that point, the film dwells quite heavily on one of our clients, Anthony Ray Hinton, who was on death row for decades for a crime
he didn’t commit. Now, this is what the police told Anthony Ray Hinton when he was arrested as he recounts it in the film.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ANTHONY RAY HINTON, EXONERATED DEATH ROW PRISONER: Please let me tell you something right now. I don’t care whether you did it or didn’t do it.
There’s five things that’s going to convict you. He said, “Number one, you’re Black. Number two, a White man is going to say you shot him.
Number three, you’re going to have a White prosecutor. Number four, you’re going to have a White judge. Number five, you’re going to have an all-
White jury.” And he said, “Do you know what that spells? Conviction.”
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: How have things changed or not since then?
STEVENSON: Well, I don’t think they’ve changed very much. We got evidence to prove that Mr. Hinton was innocent in 1999. He was convicted based on a
false match between the weapon and the bullets recovered from these murders. We have best gun experts look at that and say there’s no way you
can match the gun with these bullets.
And from 1999 to 2015, we couldn’t get the State of Alabama to take one hour to do a simple retest of the evidence to prove his innocence. They
just were unwilling to do it. There was this indifference to his innocence and this tolerance of a wrongful conviction. And I think that continues to
shape the decision-making in too many places.
We’ve got immunity laws in America that shield prosecutors and police and judges from any accountability when they wrongfully convict someone. And I
think until that changes, we’re not going to see the kind of reforms that we desperately need to correct this very serious problem. I think there
are thousands of people in America’s jails and prisons who are innocent, who are wrongly convicted, tens of thousands who have been unfairly
sentenced and it is a crisis.
We have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. We don’t seem terribly bothered by that. And until that changes, there are sadly going
to be more Anthony Ray Hintons out there.
AMANPOUR: I want to get your own experience with racism. I mean, you know, you describe very eloquently in the film how it just didn’t even
occur to you that there was such a thing until one day you were taken to a hotel pool and you and your sister jumped into it and then all hell broke
STEVENSON: Well, I think that was mindful it from the beginning because I grew up in a racially segregated community, the schools were not open to me
when I started my education. I had to go to a colored school. But then came the civil right reforms of 1960s. And by the early ’70s, when things
were supposed to be better, you know, I still go to this pool. My sister and I and all the White kids are forced out by their parents. A man
angrily shouts at me, using the n-word and, you know, that’s the memory that I had to kind of carry forward. And that happened hundreds of times
in my life.
And I think part of what we’re trying to get this country to do is to recognize that we cannot recover from this history of racial bias by simply
pretending that nothing bad a happened.
AMANPOUR: I want to play this portion of an interview. Very powerful. You’re talking about a case that you lost. You were representing an
intelligently disabled person. He shouldn’t have been on death row and the judge ruled your appeal came too late and he was executed. And this is
what you say about it.
STEVENSON: I was sitting there in agony, thinking about why I do what I do. I kept thinking about how broken he was. My clients have been broken
by poverty, broken by disability, broken by trauma, broken by bias and discrimination. But what I realized that night, that I’d never realized
before is that I do what I do because I’m broken, too.
AMANPOUR: I just find that quite profound, the fact that you say you’re broken, too. What exactly does that mean?
STEVENSON: You know, you cannot live in proximity to the kind of suffering and the kind of despair that I see. I go into communities where 12-year-
old boys tell me that they don’t think they’re going to be free by the time they’re 21, because that’s what they see happening in their, [13:31:00] in
their communities. I spend time with people who have been shattered by bias and bigotry, who have lost their loved ones to violence, who are
excluded and disfavored, who never see achievement and success from people who look like them and you can’t work and live and absorb all of that
suffering and not have it impact you.
But the beautiful thing for me is that it is the broken among us that can teach us the way redemption works, the way mercy works, the way justice
works. I’m not just trying to save my clients; I’m trying to save myself.
AMANPOUR: So you have also spoken about how societies in other countries, which have had their own original sins, whether it was the Nazi genocide
Holocaust, whether it was the South African Apartheid, whether it was the genocide in Rwanda — all of them have had reckonings and accountabilities
and laws imposed so that there can be no hate speech and no discrimination and the like.
But you say America has not had that. Why not? Why could somebody like you —
— not call for a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, for instance?
STEVENSON: Well, I think when you understand what’s happened in other countries, you realize that in South Africa, what happened after Apartheid,
there was a transition in power. A black majority took over that could facilitate that Truth and Reconciliation process.
The community of people who were targeted during the Rwandan Genocide ultimately reclaimed power; there was a change in power — the Nazis lost
the war. And because they lost the war, there was space to engage in a recovery that has now created a landscape with national memorials to the
Holocaust and things like that.
Here in America, there hasn’t been that change in power. The North won the Civil War, but the South won the Narrative War. There was never any
accountability for those who perpetrated lynchings. After the Civil Rights Movement there wasn’t a transfer of power. And so we have to talk about
these issues from a very different place.
AMANPOUR: And as you know, obviously, there’s a pretty sort of vigorous debate about whether there should be reparations; the prominent writer, Ta-
Nehisi Coates has said that; he wrote an article years ago and he’s just testified before Congress. This is the nub of what he was saying on this
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TA-NEHISI COATES: The typical black family in this country has one-tenth the wealth of the typical white family. Black women die in childbirth at
four times the rate of white women. And there is, of course, the shame of this land of the free, boasting the largest prison population on the
planet, of which the descendents of the enslaved make up the largest share.
The matter of reparations is one of making amends and direct redress, but it is also a question of citizenship.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
AMANPOUR: Where do you stand on that? I mean, famously, Mitch McConnell, the Senate Majority Leader said, look, we elected a black president, we’ve
had a Civil Rights Movement, you know, case closed. Let’s move on.
Where do you stand on the issue of reparations?
STEVENSON: Well, I don’t, I don’t see how anybody in this country could not feel an obligation to repair damage that we have done. I mean, listen,
we — (LAUGHS) we have created a hierarchical system; we have created burdens and consequences for people of color. We disempowered black people
for a century. We said they couldn’t vote, couldn’t go to schools and we haven’t done anything to really recover and help communities recover.
We have to have repair. But more than that, we should all want repair. We’ve assumed that if we apologize in America, that makes us look weak.
And I think many of us are saying that, no, that’s the only way we’re going to get strong. And so yes, I absolutely believe that we should all want to
repair the damage created by a native genocide, by two-and-a-half centuries of slavery, by a hundred years of racial terrorism and lynching by all
those laws that codified and legitimated white supremacy to racial segregation — the continuation of the presumptions of dangerousness and
guilt that keep showing up in these police shootings.
We should all want to repair that damage, to recover from that history and to create something better. If we don’t want that, [13:35:00] we don’t
want a better future. We don’t want a nation that can truly be the home of the brave and the land of the free. I don’t think these things should be
debatable. The question is how we do it. But we can’t even get to how if we’re not prepared to acknowledge that we must do it.
AMANPOUR: I mean, I wonder where you see the current crisis over migrant families fitting into this. You see the president has delayed a massive
operation to deport them, for about two weeks. But in the meantime, we have terrible reports of children languishing in filthy, inhumane
conditions, inside the United States — and in fact, if I’m not mistaken, the government is planning to house migrant children at a military base,
which was once used as a Japanese internment camp during World War II.
I mean, comment on that.
STEVENSON: Yeah. Well, I also think that the immigration issue needs this historical context. You know, at the end of the 19th century, Congress
passed things like the Chinese Exclusion Act, where we actually banned entrance to this country based on race and ethnicity. We have long
demonized immigrants of color. And if you don’t understand that history, you’re not going to be sensitive to the way in which the politics of fear
and anger, which we’re in the midst of right now, can be used to turn animosity and hatred toward particular groups; Muslims, people coming from
Mexico and Central America .
And to the kind of oppression that we’ve seen too often in our history. We rounded up Japanese-Americans and put them in concentration camps; it was
shameful. It was a horrific moment in American history, legal history. And we’re going to replicate that if we’re not attentive to the things that
we need to be attentive to.
I think fear and anger are the essential ingredients of depression. Go anywhere in the world where people are oppressed and excluded and abused
and you ask the oppressors why they do it, they’ll give you a narrative of fear and anger and we’re hearing too much of that kind of narrative, when
it comes to immigration in this country, and if we’re not responsive, if we don’t resist it, we’ll do horrific things; we’ll do abusive things to
immigrants — and there are complicated issues we’ve got to resolve.
But we cannot resolve them by being inhumane, by being abusive, by not caring about where we put people and how we treat them.
AMANPOUR: Really timely warnings and this documentary is a very timely one. Thank you so much, Bryan Stevenson.
STEVENSON: You’re very welcome. I’m glad to be with you.
AMANPOUR: Now, the fight for justice is never over, including, of course, gender justice. Our next guest, Marin Alsop, is the first woman to lead a
major American orchestra.
(BEGIN VIDEO TAPE)
She is the conductor and musical director of the Baltimore Symphony and also the Sao Paulo Symphony in Brazil. And she tells our Alicia Menendez
that classical music does have the ability to change lives.
ALICIA MENDENDEZ: I watch what you do and I’m in awe of what you do and I marvel at it.
I also have no idea what you’re doing.
Right? Like what makes a great conductor great?
MARIN ALSOP, AMERICAN CONDUCTOR: Well, there’s a physicality to it, of course, because it’s all about gesture and body language. And if I took
you to hear and see five students of mine conduct the same piece with the same orchestra, you would hear the difference.
ALSOP: Yep. Because there’s a — people respond — it’s just like body language, just like shaking hands with someone. You know how you say, ah,
oh, I like this person. There’s something inherent in body language and who we are as individuals that an orchestra responds to, or doesn’t respond
to. So that’s — there’s a physicality to it.
And of course, there’s a — there are technical aspects to it as well, that you don’t have to really understand, there are patterns and things that we
do. But beyond that, there’s also an inspirational quality and a passion quotient, I would say, that needs to be present, so that the role of the
conductor, besides being the messenger of the composer, which is our number one responsibility, is to bring out the best in the musicians — enable
them to be the best they can be. And that requires a lot of different skills.
I mean, you have to cajole them. You have to humor them. You have to be strong. You have to be gentle. You know, and all of those qualities come
into play. I imagine what makes a great conductor — is the exact same as what makes a great leader. It’s, you know, it’s very hard to put into
words and articulate. But everyone knows it.
MENDENDEZ: You’re the first woman to head a fulltime, major American orchestra. What does that mean to you?
ALSOP: Well, I’m — I feel very fortunate that the orchestra is the Baltimore Symphony —
— because —
(MUSIC BEGINS UNDER SPEECH)
— it’s a superb orchestra. Exceptional. And I conduct [13:40:00] all over the world and I absolutely love coming back always to Baltimore, to my
orchestra. And I think in many ways, the fact that it was Baltimore enabled me to experiment more than in an orchestra that perhaps has, in a
bigger city that maybe has more entrenched tradition.
In Baltimore, they were very open to changing around the programming, because I like to experiment with that and looking at a series where I talk
to the audience and the orchestra joins me and — we’re starting a program for kids and we’re starting a program for non-professional musicians; we
call it “Rusty Musicians” —
— where they can come and play. You know, these ideas that I have to try to, to try to reach more people and open up the doors, they were really
embraced by the Baltimore Symphony.
So I think, you know, being the first woman in this role — I’m very proud. I’m also — I have to say, I’m a little bit — I don’t know, I find it a
little bit said, that we could be in the 21st century and there could still be firsts for women.
You know, I’m hoping that pretty soon there will be the second, third, fourth, fifth and we won’t be counting anymore firsts. At the same time,
being the first gives me a platform to try to help other people and other women, particularly in this field.
MENDENDEZ: Talk to me about when you first fell in love with music.
ALSOP: I’m not — I’m not a good person to measure —
— this by because my parents were both classical musicians.
My father played at the New York City Ballet. He was Concertmaster for 30 years and my mother was a cellist there. So you know, I think of them
sitting around their apartment and saying, you know, we really need — we need to find a pianist. Oh, let’s make one. You know, so that’s why I was
born. I had a job immediately; I was supposed to be a pianist and I hated the piano.
I really hated the piano. And somehow, when I was about six years old I retired from the piano and they tricked me into playing the violin and I
loved the violin. There was something physically about it, you know, maybe wrapping your arms around it and the quality of the sound and — then, then
it was, for me I really could find an expression for my soul.
And it was when I played in the orchestra that I really fell in love with music. Because I think the sound, but also the social dimension to it and
being around all these other kids and — just doing something that felt meaningful together.
MENDENDEZ: And when did you realize, I want to be a conductor?
ALSOP: Well, I got, I started getting into a little bit of trouble. I was in the Julliard Pre-College Orchestra and I guess they were getting some
complaints that somebody in the back of the second violins was trying to lead the whole orchestra —
— so apparently that was me. I was smiling and moving around and jumping around. And my father, luckily, took me to a concert, a Young People’s
Concert here in New York and the conductor came out and he started talking to audience; I thought he was talking to me. You know, he’s explaining the
music. Then he’d turn around and he was so animated; he was jumping around, you know, going crazy.
And I turned to my father (LAUGHS) — I said, oh, look, I could be the conductor. Nobody’s yelling at him. So this was — and it was Leonard
Bernstein. So that was my motivation. I think it was more aerobic than anything else. You know, I was like, okay, I can do that and not get in
MENDENDEZ: Leonard Bernstein goes on to become your teacher, your mentor. That is a heck of a teacher to have.
ALSOP: Yeah, it was pretty awesome.
MENDENDEZ: What was it like studying with him?
ALSOP: He was extremely generous, extremely warm. He didn’t have that sense of personal space that most humans have. You know —
He was like a huge puppy, in a way, always kissing and hugging everybody and just really, really connecting — and also, he was terrifying, too.
You know, because he could suddenly turn and say something that could just cut you to the core.
Luckily I could read him pretty well, so I knew when to duck.
MENDENDEZ: What did you learn from him?
ALSOP: Oh, I learned so many things. Like — I learned so many things, of course, about music. But I think, maybe from my perspective, more
importantly, I learned things about what kind of citizen of the world I wanted to be. Because I watched him stand up for causes he believed in;
whether I agreed with them or not, it took a lot of courage.
And I watched him champion music as a transformative power, for human beings, for all human beings. And that inspired me to want to at least try
to emulate him in some way.
MENDENDEZ: Tell me about starting your own orchestra.
ALSOP: Well, I wanted to be a conductor. That — from the age I was nine.
I wanted to be a conductor from the age of nine and — I was suddenly sort of encountered all these strange obstacles, mainly that I was told that
girls don’t do that. And I thought, well, that’s crazy. My parents were always supportive and so I would get my parents and some pianists and a
friend and this one, and they would play for me little Mozart symphonies and you know, so I could try to conduct and — because you can’t conduct
unless you have 40 people come over to your house. You need —
You can’t practice your instrument. So it’s really, it’s really a Catch- 22. And I got my master’s in violin from Julliard and then I applied to go to school for conducting and after I didn’t get in three or four times, I
thought, maybe this isn’t for me. But I just need to conduct. So I got all my friends together, here in New York and we started an orchestra.
And it was fantastic and the amazing thing is we played together for 18 years. And we [13:45:00] grew together and they helped me become, I think,
a very skilled conductor, by giving me constructive criticism, not just about technical things, but also about how — interactions with people,
about attitude, about words you use, about gestures you use. So it was phenomenal.
And I also, I also met one of the most important people in my life, (ph) Tomi Otucki, who — I call him “my non-musical mentor” because he doesn’t
even particularly like classical music, but I played, I had a swing band also, and I played at his wedding and I called him up and said, “You know,
Mr. Otucki, you don’t know me, but could you help me? The only thing in life I want to do is be a conductor and I want to start an orchestra,” and
this man who didn’t know me at all, he said, “Absolutely, I’ll help you,” and he helped support — he was the chair of the board for 18 years.
Helped support the orchestra that whole time.
And — when my career was so busy that I couldn’t continue with — (ph) Conquery was the orchestra — he said to me, “Well, look, we achieved
something. You are the first woman to really succeed in this business,” but he said to me, “But what about all the other women?”
And so the year after the orchestra folded, I started a fellowship for women conductors called Taki Concordia. And it really — just to say thank
you to him. And that’s been hugely successful.
MENDENDEZ: When you say that you would tell people you wanted to be a conductor and the push back was, oh, girls don’t do that — what did that
look like? How did that manifest? And was it from individuals or was it institutional as well?
ALSOP: The actual words, “girls don’t do that” — that came from my violin teacher. And she was a woman. So that was very — I think really — from
her perspective, girls didn’t do that. She’d never seen a woman conductor.
From my perspective, I was hearing, no, you can’t follow your dream. But of course, those words — maybe not overtly spoken, but they followed me
throughout, I think, the majority of my career — 10 years, 20 years, 30 years. There were just a handful of women and remained a handful. It’s
only in the last couple of years that doors have started to open up. Mostly I think because of the MeToo Movement.
MENDENDEZ: As you were facing these various forms of resistance, did you tell someone like Leonard Bernstein what you were going through? And how
did he respond?
ALSOP: One of the keys to my own personal journey and success in my journey Washington that I never, I tried never to interpret any rejection
as gender-based, because I realized that it would kind of give me a pass. If I didn’t get something and I said, well, I didn’t get that because I’m a
woman, probably because I’m a woman — then it doesn’t require — an analysis, a self-analysis, a self-criticism.
Instead, I tried to interpret every rejection as an opportunity. Okay, what can I do better? So it’s funny you should ask about Bernstein,
because I want to say that in 1966, he had the first woman assistant conductor at the New York Philharmonic. They had to change the rules so
that she could conduct the orchestra. Because the first woman playing in the orchestra wasn’t until that same year, too; a bass player.
So he was at the front of this. But he was from a different generation and there was one, one time I conducted at Tanglewood and he used to always
sort of jump —
— run up and jump on the podium with me and you know, hug me and yell at me and do all these things. I finished and where was he? He wasn’t
around. He was sitting out in the audience; I thought, oh no, I’ve really done something terrible. So I ran back and he was sitting there with his
eyes closed and kind of his head in his hands a little bit and — I said, “Maestro, what’s wrong? Is everything okay?” he said, “I just — I don’t
understand. When I close my eyes I can’t tell you’re a woman,” you know, and to me, it was watching him grapple with the concept of can women
conduct? Is there any difference — between men and women on the podium?
So I just said to him, “Well, listen, if you want to keep your eyes closed all the time when I conduct, I don’t mind,” you know, because I understood
what he was saying. He was really trying to come to terms with this. Because I was a bit of an anomaly for him.
MENDENDEZ: So members of your orchestra, the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, faced a lockout. What happened?
ALSOP: Well, things just reached — the financials just reached a point where the management could no longer —
— pay the musicians. But I think it’s [13:50:00] really symptomatic of the situation in Baltimore, as a city —
— that — we need to invest in the great quality things we have, instead of pulling back and cutting back. The offer from the management is a huge
decrease in not only salary, but in weeks for the orchestra — really changing the nature of the orchestra.
So you know, they just reached an impasse and they’re talking, which gives me some hope. Because it’s truly one of the great orchestras in the world,
not just in the United States. And Baltimore not only needs it, but deserves it.
MENDENDEZ: Can you tell me a little bit more about what you’re doing in Baltimore, specifically with kids?
ALSOP: Well, when I first started with the Baltimore Symphony in 2007, you know, I thought, gosh, we’re in this city that’s predominantly African
American and we only have one African American musician in our orchestra. Why is that? And to me it’s all about access as a child, you know, because
you can’t gain the skill set to become a top professional musician unless you start when you’re very young.
And so that sort of led me to this thought of creating this orchestra where we would all mentor a child. And kind of a Mini-Me Orchestra, you know —
— and all the musicians and you know, of course, that really wasn’t going to work. But it led to a lot of discussion about what kind of program
might succeed and eventually we just started with 30 kids; first graders. And we had no idea if it would, if they’d be interested or — well, you
know, it was just like, it was like lighting a match and it — they were so engaged and several of those, seven of those 30 kids now are graduating
high school, because 11 years later — right?
And they’re going to be the first in their families, the first in their communities to go to college. And they’ve traveled the world. They’ve
seen — you know, not just do they have this skill, but they also participated in life much more fully because of the opportunities that
they’ve had performing with (INAUDIBLE) — Orchestra Kids or (ph) Or-Kids.
And they have a refuge. It’s every day after school, from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m., so it’s free childcare for the parents, too. And we realized that
they needed some support with homework, so we have mentors and tutors that come in and we realized that some of them weren’t eating well, so we have
meals that are served every day.
You know, and we’ve sort of taken our cues from the kids and what they need. And there’s no requirement to be in the program, except that you
attend school and you keep your grades at a certain level and that you can control your behavior. That’s it. You don’t have to exhibit any kind of
talent. Because really, every kid is a genius.
I have to tell you that; every kid is born a genius and we, as a society, somehow just suck that out of these kids and I don’t want to do that.
MENDENDEZ: Thank you so much.
ALSOP: Oh, my pleasure. Thank you.
(END VIDEO TAPE)
AMANPOUR: And what a generous spirit there. Now, as to the Trump administration’s Middle East Peace Ban, as it unrolls, we will continue to
get a range of reactions. But that it for our program tonight. Thanks for watching ‘Amanpour and Company’ on PBS and join us again tomorrow night.